Teaching of Other Faiths 'Is Sidelining Christianity in Schools'
Byline: Sarah Harris
SCHOOLS are failing to teach pupils about Christian beliefs in religious education classes, an official study has warned.
The education watchdog also raised concerns that Christian students were being marginalised, with more attention given to other faiths.
Too often, teachers simply focus on Jesus' parables to explore pupils' personal feelings but ignore their religious significance, the Oftsed report found. As a result pupils' understanding of Christianity is 'unsystematic and confused'.
This is despite the fact that the religion is a core part of the compulsory school course and is taught alongside other faiths including Judaism, Islam and Hinduism.
Inspectors looked at RE in 94 primary and 89 secondary schools, excluding faith schools, between April 2006 and March 2009.
Compared with an Ofsted survey three years ago, the number of lessons classified as 'inadequate' in secondary schools has doubled. Achievement in almost a fifth of secondary schools was rated at this level, inspectors said, compared with one in ten schools in the earlier survey.
Over the last year, the figure has risen to one in three secondaries.
In primaries, the report found that in many schools the quality of RE lessons was 'not good enough', with achievement only rated 'satisfactory' in six out of ten schools.
Inspectors singled out the study of Christianity as being a particular source of concern.
The report said: 'In many cases, the study of Jesus focused on an unsystematic collection of information about his life, with limited reference to his theological significance within the faith.
'Insufficient attention was paid to diversity within the Christian tradition and to pupils who were actively engaged in Christian practice.
'Often their experience was ignored and they had limited opportunity to share their understanding. …